UPDATE: Congress Shelves $60 Billion In Sandy Recovery Money; Local Reps Blame GOP

Frank Lautenberg, Chris Smith and other New Jersey-area congressman rip Congressional leadership for failing to pass the bill

Officials from states hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy blasted Congressional Republicans on Wednesday for not passing a bill that would fund $60 billion toward recovery efforts.

In a release, Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg said the move denies aid to "families, communities and businesses that were devastated by one of the worst storms to ever hit the United States.

“Denying emergency aid to Superstorm Sandy victims is a new low for House Republicans,” Lautenberg said.

Lautenberg said Congress should put partisan politics aside, as it does for other disaster recovery efforts, and "extend a helping hand to help them get back up."

"Helping struggling families recover from disasters has never been a partisan issue in Washington and it never should be," he said. "New Jersey and New York families have been hurt badly by Sandy and it is shameful that Washington Republicans are adding to their pain by standing in the way of their recovery.” 

The House of Representatives adjourned on Tuesday night without acting on the $60 billion disaster aid bill, prompting members from the states hardest hit by the storm to react angrily.

Rep. Chris Smith, a Republican who represents Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean County communities, told congressional members that they "must get us to the $60 billion that is desperately needed to assist families, businesses and municipalities devastated by Superstorm Sandy."

"Numerous towns in my district in New Jersey, as well as our friends in New York and further north, are still coping with and recovering from the most destructive storm ever in our region - and perhaps the second or third most costly in American history," he said.

He also said Congress "assisted those pummeled by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 with $62 billion in a mere two weeks... we are now past two months and still no Sandy relief bill."

"I respectfully appeal to my colleagues to come together and support this emergency legislation to help the victims of Superstorm Sandy," he said.

The GOP leadership has been criticized for what one Republican called a "personal betrayal" after it was decided that the bill would not be considered until the 113th Congress, which convenes at noon on Thursday, according to news reports.

The current session of the House comes to an end officially on Wednesday after the new Congress elected in November gets sworn in, according to an NBC News report. Legislation does not carry over from session to session, so consideration of an aid bill would have to start all over if, as expected, nothing is scheduled before then.

In a statement reported by NBC News, a spokesman for Boehner said: "The Speaker is committed to getting this bill passed this month."

In tweets and press releases, congressional representatives said the time to fund the recovery efforts is now, noting that thousands are still without homes and the Jersey Shore's summer economy is depending on future reconstruction.

"It is outrageous that @SpeakerBoehner blocked a vote on the #Sandy aid package. House must pass relief bill immediately. #NJ needs help now!" Rep. Frank Pallone, whose district covers Middlesex and Monmouth counties, tweeted Wednesday morning.

A bipartisan group of eight lawmakers gathered after protesting the move on the House floor after the House voted late Tuesday night to pass a bill to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff," according to NBC. That bill passed 257-167.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said late Tuesday he was told by the office of Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia that Speaker John Boehner of Ohio had decided to abandon a vote this session, according to the Associated Press.

Cantor, who sets the House schedule, did not immediately comment. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland told reporters that just before Tuesday evening's vote on "fiscal cliff" legislation, Cantor told him that he was "99.9 percent confident that this bill would be on the floor, and that's what he wanted," the AP reported.

In remarks on the House floor, King called the decision "absolutely inexcusable, absolutely indefensible. We cannot just walk away from our responsibilities," the AP reported.

U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, NJ-12, joined a host of Congressmen in criticizing House Republicans for delaying the Sandy relief bill. Holt spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives Wednesday morning.

“Well, you’ve heard it. Our constituents’ lives were devastated by the Sandy disaster. It has now been about nine weeks since Hurricane Sandy brought the winds and the tidal surges. In Central New Jersey, in Connecticut, in New York, people are hurting. Towns have exhausted their emergency funds and exhausted their borrowing capacity," he said. 

“In other disasters, such as the disaster associated with Katrina or with wildfires or with any number of other natural disasters, this body has acted, and aid has been provided quickly. And yet today, the Speaker is going to allow the 112th Congress to adjourn before passing the much-needed disaster relief package.

“The Senate acted on this bill. The aid package here was well-constructed; it was ready; all we needed was a vote. And the delay is significant. It adds significantly to the hurt. It is not an exaggeration to say that lives are on the line. People are living wherever they can. They don’t have the shelter. They don’t have the businesses. They don’t have their lives. And the Speaker just walks away. That compounds the disaster. The delay compounds the disaster."

Local officials expressed their anger over the delay as well.

"What they've done in Congress is unforgivable," said Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari. "This is a betrayal of the residents of the Jersey Shore."

"There are many residents who do not have a home to sleep in tonight, many businesses that have been badly damaged by this storm. It is absolutely indefensible that Congress did not put a plan in place."

"These poor people have worked hard all their lives, and they aren't getting help when they need it," Vicari said. "People are hurting and they're angry. They're on the verge of revolt."

Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:17 PM
How much has been spent on the Iraq war alone? You know the Bush War based on LIES
Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:20 PM
lol you voted for mitt? lol enjoy your vaginal probe but dont worry you are getting a legit rape from your republicons Hey Mitt said fema is immoral
Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:21 PM
Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:23 PM
Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:23 PM
Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:24 PM
lhttp://costofwar.com/ talk about a waste of money
Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:24 PM
non union but a legit rape and no vaginal probe http://costofwar.com/
Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:25 PM
lhttp://costofwar.com/l legit rape
Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:26 PM
http://costofwar.com/ Did you vote for BuSh?
Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:26 PM
http://costofwar.com/ heres why there is debt
Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:27 PM
so did Bush http://costofwar.com/
Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:28 PM
Cut all foreign aid http://costofwar.com/
Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:29 PM
Mr Clausen http://costofwar.com/ turn off Faux news
Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:30 PM
Leave Peter alone for he is a republicon out of touch with reality he lives in denial oh that black jesus http://costofwar.com/
Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:32 PM
http://costofwar.com/ Hows this for fiscal responsibility
Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:33 PM
Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:34 PM
oink oink http://costofwar.com/
Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:36 PM
The gift that keeps on giving Bush and the republicons http://costofwar.com/ dont forget oc republicons no fema claim for you
Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:37 PM
http://costofwar.com/ Runyan is stuck in the mud at his :"farm subsidy"
Penny Lane January 03, 2013 at 10:39 PM
Smithsonian new roof ? Iam a republicon we dont need it we have this http://costofwar.com/ brought to you by Bush and republicons
marylou January 03, 2013 at 11:15 PM
Hoax,yeah,your fellow Republicans,who say they are against illegal immigration,won't be able to pay them cash,off the books,and will have to pay them overtime.
Steve Dreyer January 04, 2013 at 02:44 AM
$60 billion is more than 100 times $400 million. They are not comparable. "Our own cities get nothing"? You have to be kidding. Tons of our tax dollars get poured into cities every day. If Jersey is on the decline it isn't because the rest of the country isn't shoveling more money at it.
Penny Lane January 04, 2013 at 03:18 AM
http://costofwar.com/ maybe you should take the time and read this
Laura January 04, 2013 at 04:38 AM
And what happens when you buy off seven Republican senators with a package of goodies under the guise of storm relief supposedly meant to benefit two blue states? You get yourself a filibuster proof piece of legislation. Alabama, Texas, Lousiana and Mississippi. What do they all have in common - They are all RED STATES with Republican Senators. None of them rushed to take out the pork. They went with it.
Don Lombardi January 04, 2013 at 05:32 PM
GOOD NEWS!!! "Hurricane Sandy Aid Bill Passes House." Nuff said ... Let's get on with the recovery. There'sl lots of hard work ahead. so let's keep the rhetoric down to a whisper.
Bill January 04, 2013 at 09:04 PM
Hey Penny Lane.. Wait until we take your welfare check away from you ..then you'll be crying a different tune !!! HA ! HA ! Looser !!
Bill January 04, 2013 at 09:06 PM
hey Penny Lane.. That "waste of money" kept your sorry A** safe !!.. get off the welfare dole and get a job!


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